Years after barbershops in the Vattavada panchayat in Kerala's Idukki district refused to give haircuts to people who belong to the Chakkiliyan community, the panchayat on Sunday, September 13, inaugurated a new barbershop which would cater to all sections of the society.
The barbershop was inaugurated by Devikulam Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) S Rajendran. The government-run shop was set up after it recently emerged that the higher caste barbers of the Vattavada panchayat refused haircuts to members of the scheduled caste.
The panchayat has also cancelled the license of other shops in the area and they would not be allowed to operate till they complied to cater to all.
On the occasion of the inauguration on Sunday, 13 people came to get their hair cut, according to Ramaraju, Vattavada panchayat president.
"Eight of them were from the general category and five from the Scheduled Caste community. The reports that some of the youths belonging to the Chakkiliyan community are abstaining from availing the service of the barbershop is baseless," Ramaraju told The News Minute.
Ramaraju said that the panchayat had constructed a shopping complex of four rooms. When the issue came up, it decided to allot one room to a barbershop. The barbershop at Koviloor was launched following a petition from the Chakkiliyan community members. The panchayat also cancelled the license of two other shops in the area that denied haircuts to members of the community.
Ramaraju added that the private barbershops have written to the panchayat, expressing their willingness to open their shop for all communities.
According to a report by OnManorama, the issue came to the limelight after Balamurugan, a native of Vattavada, raised the issue at an Independence Day function held recently.
"My forefathers and I have been silently enduring this humiliation. When it came to my children, I felt it was time to stop this. I could not afford to take my 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter to Munnar for a haircut, especially during the COVID time," Balamurugan, a daily-wage labourer told the media.